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Within the tradition of Philippine literature written in Filipino, an œuvre distinct from Philippine Anglophone literature and literatures of other local Philippine languages, the dagli (see Ang Dagling Tagalog: 1903-1936, Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2007) is a short prose piece which may be flash fiction or flash nonfiction or prose poem, or all, or none of them. It is a genre that proliferated in vernacular magazines, newspapers, and periodicals at the dawn of the 20th century after the Philippine-American War and the Treaty of Paris when the Americans occupied the Philippines, and the English language and American literature was imposed by the state (see Empire’s Proxy: American Literature and US Imperialism in the Philippines, New York University Press, 2011).
The Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994/2020) defines the said genre loosely as “vignettes or sketches” which could be traced back to the Tagalog pasingaw, the Binisayâ pinadalagan or binirisbiris [sometimes called dinalídalí or pinadagan] and the Spanish instantanea or rafaga, as “short account[s] … spontaneous and hurried quality … [either as] an explicit expression of a man’s love for a particular woman, but at other times … highly polemical, expressing anti-American, anti-clerical themes.” My browsing of the 1900-1940s periodicals archive (Manila’s El renacimiento; and Cebu’s Ang suga, El boletín católico, and Ang camatuoran) confirmed my initial observation that this genre æsthetically ranges from oratorically highfalutin speeches to musings of a heartbreak (or in mine and Alvarez’s native tongue, maoy), from societal treatises to narrative arc-less anecdotes of the quotidian. Such are poles apart from the dominant Euro-American short story form advocated by Iowa Workshop-schooled, Rockefeller Foundation-funded Filipinos who brought American New Criticism in our native shores in the 1960s.